Gavin at Investigations of a Dog has written a retrospective post about his experience of blogging. In this he raises a number of important issues, not least being the impact that blogging can have on a potential employer. However, I want to latch on to another point he makes, when he suggests that many lecturers lack the time to blog regularly.
To me the time argument is just an excuse. The internet is the single most important change in historical studies, since the printing press. The democratising effect of the web, means that we are seeing an influx in readily available material that was previously archived. This in turn is releasing a hoard of amateur historians.
The problem faced by academic community is that many of these amateur historians are vocal but have little, if any, training in traditional methods of research and writing. If left alone, we will see a slow build up of valuable but diverse and uncontrolled research material leaking into the public domain. If this massive resource is to be tapped, some level of control needs to be applied.
In my view, it is the role of the universities to educate these new types of historian. Though this presents a huge challenge. The new bread of historian will have neither the inclination or physical ability to attend a traditional university course. I believe that control will be brought about through the development of networks and communities, with university lecturers forming an integral controlling factor . They will act as a ‘listening post’ and a ‘voice of reason’ in the fragmented network of research groups.
So, lecturers must blog more. Blogging is the start, it provides a visible rallying point for developing communities. They must get involved in networks and communities beyond the traditional university driven avenues.
It is a priority.